So after many years, not only is BETA 200 playable from start to end credits with no major interruptions but it's stable and finally coming together as a finished thing. We still have bugs, and we still have defects, but it's approaching a level of polish you'd expect from a release ready product most of the time.
The middle of this map lags on lower end systems like a son of a bitch, for instance. Gotta fix that.
Now that we can finally play the damn thing, we can step back and take a look at the big picture for the first time.
And oh, hey, wow, yeah, some of those gaps in content are pretty big. Should probably do something about that. They are slowing down the pacing in an uncomfortable way.
Fallout 1 has roughly 20,000 lines of dialogue (only a fraction of them voiced.)
Fallout 3 has 40,000 lines of dialogue.
New Vegas has 65,000 lines of dialogue, at the time the record holder.
FNC has >14,000 lines of voiced dialogue.
That's 1/4th of a AAA game. New California is gigantic.
But it has some issues.
Because our story is so replete with branching narratives, it gets extremely dense. The very first branch you encounter in FNC splits the entire first 1/3rd of the game in half and effectively gives you a radically opposite perspective on the world where every NPC has new dialogue to account for a different Vault origin story.
Some branches have you joining the Enclave as a lone covert Agent versus you and your Wasteland Scout buddies questing together, or joining the NCR as opposed to the Raider Alliance. If you choose that last branch it's literally because you took a right turn at a forked road after being warned what's up there, and that decision GIVES YOU EFFECTIVELY ANOTHER MOD'S WORTH OF CONTENT.
We do that 7 different times with 12 endings (1 of which is a maybe, we might not work that one out. So 11 endings and 1 that's implemented but not playable. Yet.) So these 14,000 lines spread across 42 actors and about 60ish characters are concentrated in very dense layers. The code is a labyrinth the density of a neutron star, it's just a web of branching conditions and checks on unexpected player behaviour. Pascal probability handlers to see what the player might randomly decide to mix together, basically.
Some of that is whether the player chose and developed their SPECIAL Stats a certain way to open up alternate paths through a conversation, some of it is to account for if the player just waltzed through the world communicating exclusively in bullets.
All of that layering effectively gives you a Main Quest that is 1/4th the size of a AAA Role Playing Game...
... with like, a handful of frivolous side quests.
You see these guys once to radically alter their way of life. They thank you by saying hello sometimes.
When you combine the absence of side quests with the fact that our map is irrationally large and open desert, it kinda results in "content droughts."
When you're in our main quest areas, good gods, wow, that is almost too much cool stuff in one place. It puts some games to shame. But then you leave our main quest and are treated to a picturesque but largely empty void that cares about you as much as your aloof super mutant father.
I'm trying to figure out what to do about that at the tail end of development without extending the lifetime we have all burned these last 6 years waiting for release.
There are only two of us working in the GECK right now both making content and fixing bugs. Me and Rick. Rick is our lead programmer and I am the lead artist. I patch buggy levels and add art, Rick fixes engine bugs and scripts narrative events & content.
We're both busy as hell making sure the mod is playable. Adding new voiced story content?
That's a dog with two bones.
The only real option I had is to ask for help, but history shows that doing so absolutely doesn't work. I tried anyway, posted a few help wanted ads on Nexus and Discord modding pages with active New Vegas modders, and sent personal invites to about 15 quest modders, all of them with the skills we need. Followed up with each one and got back a dude who wants to write but not script and radio silence.
So that went about as well as I expected. The other big Fallout Mods are too busy on their own things and the loose modders who are developing their own little projects are just doing it for a fun hobby. Our scale and the work involved makes us more like a 2nd job, which people shy away from when you have no money. Funny how that works. :p
So what I've done is make some new outposts in the desert. What these do is serve as little interruptions in the vast open wastes.
Red are the new spots, Grey are Main Quest areas. Lines are anticipated 1st & 3rd quest player traffic.
Right now they are kinda high level death zones, so if you and your fresh out of the Vault pals encounter them early on you get mulched into a red stain. They are faction specific, so if you visit the Raiders at Black Horse, they capture you and you start the Raider Alliance path (unless you jump ship to the NCR quest by escaping.) If you find the NCR town, they just send you back out into the desert to start the NCR main quest. And after you are NCR or Raider, they are hostile to the opposite side.
These places aren't small, but they are balanced so they are equal in the two main quest paths, a Raider can attack Angel Breakers for fun combat and NCR Agents can attack Black Horse.
They also have no side quests inside, unless you include sneaking into Black Horse getting your companions back after Cards Under the Table (jumping ship Raider->NCR, like escaping the Death Star in A New Hope, you have to swing by and rescue them;) and Angel Breakers will have a dude in sweet salvaged power armour (with no dialogue) and a few robots to fix and upgrade your robot friend ALPHA as a Nerd.
I've placed vendor stalls in them, but the vendors are unvoiced too. We added generic dialogue as text but haven't set up all their scripts yet. That project turned into a way bigger chore than I anticipated. That alone has taken me several weeks to plan how I'm going to schedule time to write the rest of their material and still finish all my other things on the mod.
So when eventually I bake in these Generic voices, I'm going to need to put the NPCs in the world with AI packages and scripts that don't fuck up during the main quest, write them so they aren't arbitrarily oblivious of the player (which is actually broken in New Vegas's Engine,) set up the dialogue conditions, export that dialogue worksheet, cast actors, record them, direct the recording which will take several hours, get the files downloaded, create a new editing timeline and master the audio to match existing audio, edit that audio, cut the lines and export them to the engine, get them lipped, animated, and emotions assigned, then test to make sure they are all there. If they're not all there, back to actors. Rinse repeat.
And that will put a band aid on a hole in the mod right before release. :p
But at least you have a place to sell all that junk you picked up!
We're gonna open up our Discord at the end of April and I believe I will be recording our release trailer this week and getting it edited in addition to finding all the time to write and implement these vendor dialogues.
And fix more bugs. :p
Pretty sure it's not supposed to do that...
My bug list did get a little longer and more Russian this week, so I need to go back and do some basic adjustment and fixes all over that I would do "one day."
Today is one day. /tonyrobbins.
I just got this last minute update via Rick before hitting post, so you can kinda see the sort of thing we are doing at this stage in development. We're no longer drowning in work, so that's good, but we're still swimming to shore buck naked and there are a few more sand bars on the way. So that's nice.
Open BETA is no longer remote. We need to do more private bug fixing.
It's not Beta Playing that helps us, it's BETA testing & fixing. ;) So you can't play it quite yet. But soon.
You may commence the customary ReleaseWhens and GimmeBetas now.
You can read more about our progress on the Design Documents Found Here. In the mean time, you can keep track of us on ModDB, Fallout Nexus, (which I took offline for now) or Facebook. We've got a thriving online community centered around each one.
You can also throw dollars at me on Pay-Pal so I don't starve to death at my desk: Nexusmods.com